The United States is spreading out its spy network across Africa, instituting an arrangement of small air bases to keep closer eye on terrorist hideaways- from the outer edge of the Sahara to the tropical land down the equator, the Washington Post reported. The prime target of the recent US spy endeavor in Africa is al-Qaeda, the report stated.
“At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles,” the Washington Post report detailed out.
It is pertinent to mention here that the United States presently has military and intelligence presence in several African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Seychelles, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Moreover, the military bases in Mauritania and Burkina Faso were established to primarily keep eye on al-Qaeda.
According to officials associated with the issue, the US government is becoming increasingly worried about the increasing power of Boko Haram, the Nigerian militants’ faction held accountable for several bomb blasts across Nigeria. Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab is also expanding and growing its influence across Somalia.
The U.S. intelligence network expansion in Africa also underscores the way in which special mission forces are shaping the lines that administer the world of intelligence, making aggressive movements into circles once set aside for the CIA.
The Post report also stated out that the CIA has stretched out its anti-terrorism efforts in Africa, but it lacks the resources and manpower the situation demands. The military, on the other hand, possesses the required resources and manpower.
Meanwhile, some officials of the Obama administration have articulated doubts about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy in Africa. They believe that majority of the militant hideouts and training camps in Africa are chasing local and limited objectives, not big and international ones. Besides, they hold that the African terrorists do not pose direct threat to the United States or its interests across the world.